With the holidays fast approaching, millions of people across the country will be traveling to visit their families. Amidst the current pandemic, ensuring safe travel practices has never been more important. Whether you plan to travel by road or by air, there are several crucial safety measures to keep in mind. For those traveling by plane, the CDC has provided information about the safety of air travel and outlined necessary precautions:
Airline Travel Tips:
- Fortunately, viruses do not transmit easily on airplanes due to how air circulates throughout the cabin. However, practicing social distancing can be especially difficult on flights due to the proximity of passengers to one another. In addition, ensuring social distancing at airports is challenging due to long lines and crowded terminals. Getting to and from the airport also poses a risk, as ridesharing always poses the threat of viral transmission.
- With these factors considered, you need to consider whether traveling by plane is necessary in the first place. If possible, you may want to travel by car instead of taking a flight, particularly if traveling by car will not require you to stay at a hotel or other lodging site.
- If you do plan on flying, remember to always wear a mask, clean your hands often, and attempt to socially distance as much as you can. In addition, taking a flight without middle seats will ensure more space between passengers. If possible, always try taking a flight with no middle seats. Research demonstrates that infection risk declines when a plane has a clear middle aisle. You can find a list of airlines and their middle seat policies
- Always make sure to get your flu shot before you travel.
Road Travel Tips:
Many who do not wish to be in airports or who have no need to fly will be driving home during the holidays. While taking the road means you can avoid large crowds at airports, traveling by car poses risks of its own. Public health experts at Emory University and Georgetown University note that if you decide to travel by road, you should:
- Pack as much food and water as you can. Minimizing stops is extremely important for limiting contact with those outside of the car. These should be avoided as much as possible.
- When you do stop for food, make sure that you do not stop and eat in a crowded area.
- When making a rest stop is necessary, practice normal social distancing protocol – wear a mask, clean your hands, and attempt to socially distance as much as possible.
While driving a shorter distance is preferable to flying by plane, driving longer distances which require you to stay at hotels or motels poses a far greater risk. While the totality of risk in each circumstance is not fully understood, public health experts agree that taking a plane may be safer than taking a long trip on the road. Traveling long distances on the road poses its own common risks, such as car accidents and vehicular malfunction in remote areas.
Lastly, you may want to consider if traveling to see relatives during the holidays is wise in the first place. We understandably yearn to see our loved ones, but the virus poses a special risk to the elderly and those who suffer from comorbidities in the heart and lungs. It may be necessary to refrain from traveling altogether and use digital methods of communication such as Zoom to celebrate the holidays with your family.